Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Scientific Argumentation in an Online AP Physics 1 Course
by Kernion, John Robert, Ed.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2019, 172; 22623495
Abstract (Summary)

If one were to list a group of skills essential for scientific literacy on which the educational research community finds consensus, argumentation would undoubtedly be included, and perhaps be the top choice. This understanding has recently prompted the College Board to adapt its algebra-based AP Physics 1 course expectations by making the development of scientific argumentation skill an integral aspect of successful instruction. Although computational skill development and conceptual understanding of physics are still the backbone of the course, process skills such as argumentation have now taken on significant importance and must be addressed by instructors who desire to effectively prepare their students. This action research study reports on the attempt to incorporate a constellation of argument-related activities into an online AP Physics 1 course in order to investigate the role they may play in argument skill development.

The study was conducted with homeschool students who took AP Physics 1 through an online education company called Physics Prep. Students were exposed to a variety of argument-related activities as they learned physics content over a six-month section of a school year. Analysis of data produced in pre/posttests, pre/poststudy interviews, and student-constructed artifacts, allowed for answers to inquiry questions to emerge over time. These questions were associated with the precourse level and subsequent development of skill in argumentation for fifteen students.

Findings indicated that the incoming skill level of students was generally in need of improvement relative to the expectations set by the College Board. Change in argument-related performance for course activities was then measured over time. Group-level improvement was generally found. However, inconsistent individual exhibition of argumentation skill was also noted, which pointed to sufficient physics-related conceptual development as a necessary foundation on which arguments in AP Physics 1 can be constructed. Without conceptual grounding, the arguments evaluated in this study lacked the quality required by the College Board even when the structural understanding of a high-quality argument was evident in other work. A rationale is offered that may explain the connection between argument construction and conceptual understanding of physics subject matter.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ansell, Ellen
Commitee: Kokka, Kari, Cavagnetto, Andy
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 81/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Science education, Higher education, Physics
Keywords: AP Physics 1, Argumentation
Publication Number: 22623495
ISBN: 9781392618684
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